I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that something could arise without a cause.

~David Hume

I on the other hand will assert something so absurd.

This is motivated by a number of posts I have seen on the methods, limitations and philosophy of science. However, before responding to those individually I think its worth getting out my general view.

My sense is that reality is like a giant block. This block extends in a number of dimensions but four are most relevant for our purposes. The three easily observable spatial dimensions and the time dimension.

At different points within the block some properties of the block vary. These are the fundamental fields. They give the block a composition.

Now, so it happens the composition of the block is patterned. So, that a given value for properties at one point in the block mean that a range of values at nearby points is more likely than other values.

In our everyday experience this allows us to perceive objects. So if I look out and say “I have an arm” I am talking about a pattern in the block.

For example, I mean that if I can only perceive a portion of the block composing the “arm” that I none the less have some pretty strong guesses about what the nearby portion of the block is like. If I then perceive the nearby portions and they do not match my guess then this is surprising. Its surprising because of the patterns.

We can call a specific pattern a shape, so that I can say my arm has a shape. Alright.

That’s all very natural in the spatial dimensions, but the same thing happens in the time dimension. Objects have a shape in time.

The difference is that I perceive space and time in different ways. This possibly extends from the fact that time has a useful meta-pattern. It is this meta-pattern that we refer to as “the laws of physics.”

In any case reality is completely described by the shape of all objects in space-time. This is because the shape of objects in space-time indicates the patterns in the block’s properties and the block and its properties are the whole of reality.

What I think of as science, though I have no interest in claiming the word science, so we can call it sclience if people object is building a map of space-time for the purpose of being able to look up the shape of various objects.

Now for relatively large nearby objects within a particular slice through time this is trivially easy. I open my eyes and boom! I perceive a map of objects. All sorts of fancy stuff goes on in my brain to make this happen but from my point of view its really, really easy.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for small objects, far away objects or objects at another slice in time. Which is of course a pain.

So I go about using whatever techniques at my disposal for expanding the map.

The attempt to do this in the time dimension has led people to posit the notion of causality: that if this thing happens then something else will happen. Really though this is just a discussion of the shape of things through time.

Its no different than saying, if I have a forearm then I have a wrist. Its not as if there is some meta-physical relationship between forearms and wrists. And, it wouldn’t really make sense to say having a forearm causes me to have a wrist. Its just that the shape of arms is such that forearms are usually in direct proximity to wrists.

This is the same with the shape of things through time. In time things usually have a certain shape. However, trying to apply some sort of meta-physical specialness to this doesn’t really add anything.

Similarly. its not clear what one really adds with the phrase “everything must have a cause.” There is some shape of things through time, sure. However, are you saying that there must be some identifiable pattern to that shape? I don’t see why that has to be true and its not even clear that it is in fact true.

There could be regions of space-time where all four dimensions are completely mixed-up with no pattern at all.

So, it seems to me that there is no point in getting all emotionally caught up in this notion of causes. We map space-time as best we can and that is that.